Bayhawks Week 3 Preview
The Chesapeake Bayhawks look to maintain their perfect record by crushing whatever comes into their path, and this week it’s the Chicago Machine. The Bayhawks take on the Machine in Pittsburgh as part of the Machine’s season long road trip, Sunday at 4 PM ET.
The Bayhawks are riding a two-game high after pounding the Long Island Lizards in week one and the Toronto Nationals last Saturday. It seems nothing can stop the Bayhawks offensive powerhouse, which featured ten different goal scorers against the defending MLL Champion Nationals.
Kyle Dixon ignited the Bayhawks never-ending drive against Toronto with a goal 35 seconds into the contest. With his effortless release, he contributed four goals, including a two-pointer in the game. Don’t expect Dixon to slow down his two-point shooting; he’s made three so far this season and with 20 in his career, he is just one shy of the Bayhawks franchise record held by Mark Frye. Dixon is certain to come out locked and loaded looking to set his own Bayhawks record.
Dixon isn’t the only one cranking out two-pointers though. In just his fourth MLL game, Peet Poillon struck gold with his first career goal from outside the two-point arc. Leading the MLL scoreboard with 14 points already, it seems the ball gravitates toward Poillon’s stick making him a threat inside and outside. “For a little guy, that thing just flies,” says General Manager Spencer Ford of Poillon’s unreal shot. “Nobody sees it till it’s in the back of the cage.” No longer an unknown to opponents, look for Poillon to be a focus of the Machine defense this week.
Brian Vetter totaled four goals last weekend, with three off mid-air shots, earning the Week Two Bud Light Game MVP award. “It’s all about being unselfish and staying balanced,” Vetter said. “Guys are keeping their heads up and moving the ball, which is all we need to do because this team has so many great shooters.”
For the Bayhawks, the team’s chemistry is everything. “The guys love being around each other and the balance of our offense and defense is phenomenal,” said Ford. “[Head] Coach Tucker stresses sharing the ball, teamwork and playing for the guy next to you, as the name on the front of the jersey is a lot more important than the name on the back.” That said, the new ownership wants the team to connect more off the field; this weekend they’re taking a bus to Pittsburgh in hopes of establishing a deeper bond between the players.
It also helps to have the best face-off specialist in the MLL. Alex Smith has won back-to-back MLL Defensive Player of the Week awards for his work on face-offs. Smith owned the face-off circle last week, winning 34 of 39 against the Nationals. “To have a weapon like Smith is huge because when you score you usually get the ball right back,” said Tucker.
While the opposing offenses haven’t had too many chances in the Bayhawks defensive zone, when they do get a shot off Chris Garrity has risen to the challenge. “Garrity is making some clutch saves so far this season,” Tucker said. “Whenever teams have tried to get on a run, Garrity has come up with a big save to stop the momentum.” Garrity will need to bring his “A” game this weekend as the Leveille brothers are looking to take down the Bayhawks defensive line.
“Chicago is tough because they’re pretty balanced all over the field and anytime you have a couple players on the field who can break a defense down, it’s scary,” said Ford. “I would take our guys and our team over anybody, but we’re going to have to keep our eyes on Kevin and Mike Leveille and their big gun middies.”
The Machine’s defense has also been playing well. The unit has allowed the second fewest goals in the league this season. Ford thinks it will be essential to move the ball and not allow them to scheme against Bayhawks offensive unit.
The Bayhawks defense needs to be prepared for the Machine’s attack, but Tucker isn’t worried. “We have a big, strong, athletic close defense that is smart and communicates well,” said Tucker. Considering the defensive line didn’t practice in the preseason because of their indoor schedules, they’ve been able to gel together very quickly and according to Ford, “they’re getting better every game and they don’t get beat with the same trick twice.”
Tucker and Ford are confident in all aspects of the Bayhawks game, but they recognize every team can improve. Tucker notes, “We made some mistakes in transition and face-offs, but our six-on-six defense was excellent.” Without doubt the Bayhawks are feeding off the momentum of two wins and will enter this weekend’s game with confidence. Ford thinks “we can compete with anybody and if we do the right things, we will beat anybody.”
They go up against the Machine defense, which has also been playing well. The unit has allowed the second fewest goals in the league this season (Chesapeake’s allowed the fewest). Ford thinks it will be essential to move the ball and not allow then to scheme against Bayhawks offensive unit. The Bayhawks are looking to bring a third W back home to Annapolis for their week four matchup against the Boston Cannons.
As far as the Machine go, Head Coach B.J. O’Hara is busy preparing for the trip to Pittsburgh after a close loss to the Boston Cannons last weekend. “They’re playing very, very well at both ends of the field,” said O’Hara. “They’re certainly putting up a lot of goals, but they’ve also played real good defense.” The Machine was hit hard by the Boston Cannon’s rowdy fans last week. O’Hara’s hoping Pittsburgh will be a neutral ground, but Ford anticipates the Bayhawks will dominate the fan base as well as the game. “We’ve got people coming in on our side and we think it’s going to be a huge Bayhawks crowd,” said Ford. “They’re going to be cheering for number 57,” that’s Pennsylvania’s own Peet Poillon.
Maybe the Machine can give the Bayhawks their first sense of competition this Sunday, if not the Bayhawks will continue their hopes of landing a winning season. To find out, watch the game live on Comcast SportsNet Mid Atlantic or streaming online at ESPN3.com.